Back to Basics: Social Media 101
When the world changed in the late winter and early spring of 2020 with the rise of COVID-19, churches quickly searched for ways to stay connected with their congregations and continue to serve them. Soon churches that had previously not seen social media's value as a discipleship tool realized that these social platforms, especially Facebook, were precisely what they needed to continue their ministries during the pandemic. People in the community—looking for connection, hope, and even just something to do—began to engage with church Facebook pages and worship services.
For churches that already have an established presence on Facebook, many have prepared for engaging new followers. For other churches that are beginning to invest time and energy into social media, this can be overwhelming. Many churches end up only posting updates about worship services and then leave the account alone for the rest of the week. Yes, you must let people know how to watch your online services or—when the time comes—to join you on your campus for worship. But if that is the sole purpose of your Facebook page, you will be missing an excellent opportunity to reach people that very much need connection, encouragement, and hope right now.
So what should you post besides information about your worship services?
Here are five basic ideas to stay connected with your new Facebook followers and growing your online community.
1. Ask questions
Think of Facebook as a big party where people are walking around looking for people they know or new people. Why not start a conversation? You can ask questions like, "What is your favorite worship song?" or "What was the first Bible verse you memorized?" You can also ask a more open-ended question that anyone can answer—whether they're familiar with church or not. Questions like, "What is your favorite ice cream flavor?" or "What is the best vacation you have ever had?" gets a conversation started. When people comment or like posts like these, they are more likely to see your worship service and other updates in the future.
2. Share stories
People are always looking for stories of hope, but especially now. Even if your members are not meeting on campus, the work of your church continues. Many churches have been on the front lines of providing care to their communities through food drives, grocery deliveries, and yard work for neighbors. Share a photo and a short caption telling your Facebook followers how God is continuing to work in and through your church.
3. Embrace video
Facebook Live is an easy way to go online and connect with your community without having special equipment or expertise. You can use your desktop computer, your smartphone, or even a tablet to share short devotionals from your pastor or various staff members. You can also ask families to submit video devotionals or Bible readings and share those as well.
4. Gather in a group
That's right! In addition to your church page, you can create a private church group where members gather for a more intimate experience and share internal church news like prayer requests, member updates, or gather to chat about life.
5. Comment, comment, comment
We've got four ideas here, plus your worship services, to share with your Facebook community, but there is something fundamental you will need to do to make sure that you are connecting with them. As people begin to engage by commenting on these posts or commenting in your groups, remember to reply to them! The post is just the start of the conversation. You, and other moderators, will need to be involved and connected for relationships to grow. Moderators are also crucial so that you don't have to do it all!
Even as churches begin to meet on campuses in some capacity, continue serving your online communities. Be sure to keep the momentum of your online growth and foster connections.